Our Blessings

Our Blessings

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Hope Does Not Disappoint (a day in the mountains)


Had the gift of a day away in the mountains. Time to see the sun rise on my way out of town. To enjoy the brilliant shades of autumn color. I love so many things about every season. In the fall I love crisp air, crunchy leaves, pumpkins, baking, scarves and all of that good stuff. But, I also can't get enough of the rich, deep blue sky.  The way the sun shines on the changing leaves from more of an angle in the sky.  It makes everything more beautiful. It's so pretty that I hardly notice when suddenly it's over and the last leaves have fallen...and suddenly it's cold and brown and not so pretty. But, when the days are shorter and colder I switch my focus to indoors with warm bread in the oven, cozy socks, the fireplace going, snuggles while reading books and watching movies and playing games. Then suddenly it's time to celebrate Christmas and soon after spring is on it's way. OK...not really so soon after here in Colorado. Spring sometimes feels like it's a long time coming. But, the promise is always there...hope for new life, brand new shiny leaves and flowers and days at the park will return again. 


Life with 6 kiddos of varying ages is busy. But, this season we are in has been filled with some extra challenges. It's stretching us and our faith. We continually remind each other that God is bigger. Adoption is a beautiful miracle - no doubt. But, it's always good for us to remember that it is necessary because it follows tragic loss...of a birth parent, culture and very often so much trauma it absolutely tears your heart open. We are walking through some painful, challenging times with our girls. I feel like our initial time adjusting this time was a bit like summer - some hot, sticky moments - but over all filled with good stuff. Then we moved into a season where things were changing and losing the vibrant colors of  life and growth. We knew it might be hard. We took the advice we so often give others - prepare for the worst, hope for the best and cover it all in lots and lots of prayer. 


I drove up through the Big Thompson Canyon, which flooded a year ago and brought devastation and loss to many families, homes and businesses. Each time I go up it looks a bit more back to 'normal.' A new normal - literally as the flood water cut new paths, changing the shape of mountain sides, tearing up miles of road and bridges. Along the main highway - if you didn't know it happened - there would be many parts of the drive that it wouldn't be so obvious anymore. However, today I took the road through Glenhaven so I could support the general store and buy a couple of their famous cinnamon rolls! (I'm just doing my part!) That drive was a whole different story. The paved road that used to have a gently flowing river is now a muddy, dirt road with all kinds of flood debris along the sides and giant trees uprooted and laying on the sides of the road. 


Yet...right in the midst of all of this devastation - I am surprised by beauty. The gorgeous trees who refused to fall - showing off their fall colors. The people - still working so hard to restore and rebuild their roads, bridges, homes and businesses. Standing in line for my cinnamon roll - I listened to the locals talk about a town meeting tonight and it was so clear how much this little community has had to really pull together over this past year. As I drove on up to Estes Park - I thought how the flood waters wouldn't have been so damaging if everybody knew it was going to happen - years in advance. They could have built bridges higher and stronger. Reinforced roads and homes. Moved the earth to help direct the river and all of it's abundance. But, they didn't know...when a mountain range gets more rain over a few days then is usual in an entire year - all of that water has to go somewhere - downhill and fast leaving much devastation in it's wake. 


It made me think how our lives seem so different right now, too. If we would have known exactly what we might be dealing with - we might have felt like we could prepare better. But, we are finding our new normal as we deal with trauma and anxiety that has cut through our lives like flood waters. We are attempting to clean up the debris of challenging and scary behaviors, bad dreams, PTSD and more. We spend a lot of time listening, reassuring, monitoring, driving to appointments, reading and praying through out each and every day. This combined with our normal day to day duties has been a lot. We don't know exactly how all of this will end. 


But, this we know...He who calls us is faithful. And our hope is in Him!


Today my bible study spoke about 1 Thessalonians 1:3 - We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work of faith, labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Oh - so timely. I love it when Jesus speaks to me so clearly in several places - confirming His message for me.


"We have access to the Holy Spirit welling up in us like a spring. Tapping into Him requires deliberation and cooperation so God can love through us. Like me, you've probably asked Him to love through you, then fizzled out within the hour. Here's the catch: we cannot love when we perceive ourselves as unloved. We cannot offer to others what we don't possess...


Jude 21 says, "keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ." That means practicing the mindset of being profusely loved by God. We must invite our souls to plunge into His love like a dolphin romping in the sea. Actively engaging in His unending, extravagant, no-strings-attached affection for you is not narcissism. Its necessity. it can mean our survival when we're faced with the loveless." 
~ Beth Moore - Children of the Day


We spend so much time loving our girls by listening, praying and helping them and some days seem a bit better - like we're making progress. Then suddenly we're thrown another loop and the hopelessness can start to seep in. The counselors say we are doing everything right and to hang in there. But, I know there are times we fail. Times we snap or get tired and cranky. Times when we get overwhelmed and operate out of our own strength and resources. Somedays I feel downright unqualified for this job. 


Then I read this quote from Oswald Chambers...

 "To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children." 


Oh how I long for God to be able to use me in the lives of His Children - my children. 
He is their hope. Spring will come again...we can count on it and we can have hope. Hope in Him...in his strength, love and redeeming power. Hope that He will restore what was lost and exchange beauty for ashes. In Him we have hope...that makes all the difference.


And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:5 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Treasures



Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:3-5


 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2


Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
1 Chronicles 16:11


For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 
Colossians 1:13-14


He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3


The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 145:18


You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11-12


do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10


so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 
Galatians 4:5


My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.  For they are life to him who finds them, and healing to all his flesh.
Proverbs 4:20-22


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? 
Micah 6:8


But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:15


And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:14


Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, September 18, 2014

First Day of School ~ 2014



The girls were all very excited to start a new year at our little school. 
(Church - homeschool tutoring service) We love so many things about it...the school feels like a combination of homeschooling and amazing discipleship time. The days are short 8:45-1:00. We have a month off in the summer, a longer break at Christmas and a few other short breaks. And we can pull them out for family time as we want to. And with this crew - I find the routine and schedule is helping us thrive as a family. With the season we are in this past year and a half - EPA (Ellerslie Preparatory Acadmy)  has been such an amazing fit for us. Still seems strange to not be homeschooling in the traditional sense - but this is an answer to prayer for us. 


This little girl was so eager to finally start school last summer after Loe had spent 6 months at school. She has flown through kindergarten, 1st and most of 2nd grade work. Apparently she was ready for school!? It's fun watching her learn and soak things up. She also adores her teachers and friends. She looks forward to school and that's saying a lot for this little homebody. 


Miss Eloise continues to enjoy time learning academics as well as soaking up God's truths. What an amazing blessing to watch her fall more in love with her Savior. I seriously can NOT believe she is going to be 11 in a few months. She thrives with routine and so enjoys the enrichment classes they have added in - art and PE. She loves bringing her projects home to show off!


And this beauty continues to amaze me with her courage and determination to keep working on English, math and some history. Sometimes one of the Ellerslie advanced students who are bilingual -  come in to help translate during discipleship time. She raises her hands to answer questions and is so proud when she can say it in English and the teacher understands her! She has much to overcome and I am so excited to see what God has in store for her! SOOO thankful for EPA - a safe, loving "school" for her to attend. She is so social - that this is a perfect fir for her right now. 


I really could write a whole blog post about the teachers our girls have been blessed to have. They are  technically 'tutors' - but they pour and pour and pour into our girls. They long for them to learn and grow, but not just in academics. They come alongside them in their struggles and victories. And they pray with and for our girls and our family. Every - single - day - they point our girls to Jesus. We feel like these amazing people are an extension of our family. Such a privilege to have them coming alongside us. (Above is 1 of Loe's & Angie's 3 teachers.) 


Praying our girls have an amazing year - learning more about God's creation, HIS-story, and His Word...and so much more. 

Miss Vivi is THREE!



Can not believe that our baby girl is already 3 years old! It just can't be that long ago that she looked like this...


But...time marches on. 


While Viv can be completely defiant and ornery at times...


...during this challenging season she has been such a needed ray of sunshine and laughter.


I wish (pray!) for her...to understand how much Jesus loves her. To know the amazing plans He has for her. To be filled with grace and joy. To be used mightily to further His kingdom. And to rest in His strong arms. 


These three could NOT WAIT to celebrate with their baby sister. 


And it was more than excitement about cupcakery cupcakes...though we did all enjoy those a lot. 


The older two used some hard-earned foot-rub money and an entire gift card to pick out this adorable Minnie Mouse dress-up outfit for her. 


Complete with headband, bow and...


...light-up shoes!


I don't think she could be any cuter!


And the girls were thrilled to see her loving her gift. 
(Minnie has been her favorite for a long while!)


She was feeling pretty snazzy! 


Our gift for her was a plasma car. We have worked hard the past several years to give the kids gifts that allow them to use their bodies and minds to create, exercise and move. She played on these cars with Miss Betsy while we were in Colombia and loved them! The fun thing is that all the girls can take turns riding it. Though it is a bit of work - which is good for them! Nothing like a fun way to burn energy and get fresh air and sunshine. 


Happy birthday to our precious Vivienne Sade. You are such a precious gift and we love you to infinity and beyond!